Now that I have everybody feeling so nice…
Sometimes you come to expect certain things. Since I can remember, every time I’ve slept next to Mark, when I open my eyes in the morning, he is still sleeping beside me. So it caught me by surprise when on this morning, I woke up alone. I glanced around my room, but he was nowhere to be found. The blue display on my clock told me it was 10:22, a bit on the later side of morning. I put my hand on the spot where he slept. It was still warm, so he couldn’t have been gone for long. I guess it’s possible he got up without me and went down for breakfast. I will admit to pouting a little bit at that notion.
I slid out of bed and threw on the nearest, balled up t-shirt from the floor, and opened the door to exit my bedroom. On my way to the bathroom, I heard some talking coming from below. It sounded like my mom and Mark. I smiled a little to myself. That’s the price you pay for going down for breakfast without me, shitty.
I’m not sure why, because it’s not in my usual nature to spy or eavesdrop, but I skipped the bathroom, and quietly tiptoed closer to the edge of the railing. A couple of quick maneuvers, and I was able to hear them pretty clearly.
“Thanks again Mark, for waking up so early to talk with me.”
“It’s ok. It’s not even early.”
“Well, I swear you boys would sleep all day if you could. So, how does Daniel seem to you? Does he seem ok?”
“Yeah. He seems fine.”
“Good. Good. I worry so much, you know. And he doesn’t really talk to me like he used to. But then yesterday, it was like my old son was back. I could just feel it. I was over the wall with joy. My boy, he seems to be winning, you know. Anyway, you don’t need me to bore you with all this. I just, thank you, thank you so much for agreeing to see him. I believe half the reason he’s been so down is because of how much he misses you. He truly does think the world of you Mark.”
“No problem Mrs. A. I like hanging out with Daniel. He’s a good friend.”
Words can’t even begin to describe the horror I felt upon hearing their conversation. Total and complete devastation. I was going to faint if I didn’t get up soon. I had to move. I had to move. I tried to get to my wobbly feet as quietly as I could and stumbled into the bathroom. I went over to the sink and scooped handfuls of cold water onto my face. My head was spinning so fast. Red hot. I’m gonna faint. I think I have to puke. I stood in stunned disbelief, my rapid heartbeat resonating loudly in my ears. LIES!!! Oh my god! I’m such an idiot. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
I dragged my dead legs over to the toilet and sat down, with my head down, between my hands. The floodgates gave way and I cried a torrent of hopelessness onto the cold tiled floor. I reached over to turn the faucet back on, to try and cover the sounds of the uncontrollable sobbing, my soul couldn’t contain. This confusing web of emotions was almost more than my thirteen year old mind could handle. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I wanted it all to go away. I wanted life to be easy.
I wanted to believe that it couldn’t be. I just heard the conversation at a confusing moment. But it didn’t work. Undeniable. Mark wasn’t here of his own freewill. He was bribed by my desperate fucking mother. It’s all a charade. A fucking charade. The kind words. The furtive kiss. Make believe. How could I be so stupid?
I sat for I don’t know how long, trying to wrap my head around all of it, but it was just too much. Suddenly, a knock at the door.
“Dude. Let me in. I gotta take a piss.”
“Ahh…naked here. About to take a shower. Go downstairs. Sorry.”
There was no response from the other side, so I proceeded to strip down and do as I had said. It sells it better, if you actually follow through.
I climbed into the shower, not really wanting one. However, it didn’t take long to appreciate it for the symbolism. I let the stream hit right on top of my head, washing all the tears and misery off my face, and down the drain. It was time to clear my head and come up with a plan. Just for today. That’s all I had to worry about right now. In a little while I would have to face Mark again. As much as I just wanted to disappear, seeing him was unavoidable. Seeing him carrying this knowledge he did not know I possessed. He can’t know. At least for now. I decided it was best to just bottle it up. Hide it deep down inside. Swallow the bitter pill, and put up a false front. I can play along, and I will. At least until I can come up with a better plan.
I finished up my shower and went back to my bedroom wearing the dirty clothes I went in the bathroom with. For some reason I wasn’t comfortable being around Mark, wrapped only in a towel. I didn’t want to repulse him any further. Being here was probably torture enough. Mark was leaned up against some pillows on my bed, playing with his phone as I passed in front of him. I went to my dresser and pulled out some clothes to change into, and headed back out toward the bathroom.
“Where ya going?”
“To the bathroom. To change.”
When I got back to my room, Mark looked at me kind of strange. Following me with his eyes.
“Is it cool if I take a shower?”
“Yeah. Of course man.”
He ran into the bathroom and I sat at my computer desk, realizing how hard it was to hide how I’m feeling. To put up that false wall of fake happiness. Why is that so easy for some people, but so hard for me?
I sat there trying to shut my mind off, and move ahead, but I was finding it very difficult to do. Random thoughts like ‘how little they must think of me, to deceive me and lie to me like this’ would just occupy all the space in my head. It was maddening.
Then Mark came prancing into the room wearing only his flimsy boxers, like it was the most normal thing in the world to do. I told myself not to look. Not to stare. No need to give myself false hope or dwell on some fantasy. But damn it was hard. He’s just so…I ache for him so bad.
“So what do you want to do today? I mean, do you want to hang out?”
“Yeah. Sure. I don’t know. What do you want to do?”
“You ok? You seem kind of…I don’t know, quiet or something?”
“Yeah. I don’t know. Just kind of woke up with a headache today or something. I’ll be alright.”
“You take anything for it?”
“Uhhh…I have to ask for those now. Kind of locked away.”
“Oh shit dude. Sorry. I…I wasn’t thinking. So stupid.”
Forcing a smile. I said “Nah. Don’t worry about it. You didn’t know. So what should we do?”
“Well, we could ask for a ride to the mall or go and see a movie. Get some food. You could stay over, if you want?”
“Well…I wouldn’t want to impose.” Shit! Why did I say that? Stupid! Stupid!
“Impose? You sure you’re feeling alright. Come on. Let’s go ask your mom if she can give us a ride later.”
Mark walked over and put his hand out for me, to help me out of the chair. This was not going good at all. I just let myself get talked into spending an entire day and probably tomorrow with Mark. The boy who was only over here out of pity.